The shio-koji (salted rice malt) gives a boost to the umami. This recipe won the 4th Iron Chef Award on November 30, 2012.
I typically make these using soy sauce and sugar, but when I tried making them with shio-koji and black pepper, they turned out amazingly tasty.
The potato sticks are tasty if slightly under-cooked to give them a slight crispness.The shio-koji may burn easily, so once you add it, briskly sauté, then remove from the heat.
Enjoy Japanese food around the world.